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Monday, July 11, 2022

Here Are Some Things You Need To Know About Charging EVs


As carmakers and energy companies get on the EV bandwagon, it’ll undoubtedly start to create some confusion particularly when it comes to charging them. Whether you’re looking to buy your own Battery Electric Vehicle or BEV, or just curious about it, here are some things you need to take note of.
What is an Electric Vehicle?

A Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV), as its name implies, uses energy stored from a high-voltage battery to power an electric motor. BEVs have zero tailpipe emissions and they’re quiet. The range—or the distance you can travel on a single charge is important—and most can go anywhere between 200 to 600 kilometers.

Some examples of BEVs available in the Philippines (in order of affordability) include the BYD Dolphin, the Nissan Leaf, the BMW iX, the Jaguar I-PACE, the Audi e-Tron GT, and the Porsche Taycan.

Take note that different models have different charging ports.


Different charging ports?

Sad, but true. This is something carmakers don’t typically talk about, but despite being a relatively new piece of technology, they still can’t agree to one common standard charging port standard for both AC and DC charging.

When using a Direct Current or DC fast charger (DC Level 3 and DC Level 4), you’ll have to contend with at least five different standards: CHAdeMO, GB/T, CCS – Type 1, CCS – Type 2, and Tesla; and they’re not compatible with each other.

CHAdeMO or “Charge de Move,” is the preferred standard used by Japanese carmakers such as Nissan and Mitsubishi. They aren’t in use elsewhere in the world, and in fact, they’re slowly being phased out in both North America and Europe in favor of CCS – Type 2. Locally, CHAdeMO is found at Nissan dealerships authorized to sell and service the Leaf EV as well as UniOil stations equipped with EV chargers.

Speaking of CCS or “Combined Charging Station,” there are two types. Type 1 is commonly used in the United States, while Type 2 is commonly used in Europe. It’s fast becoming the most adopted standard since carmakers consider it an elegant solution in that the bulky charger can be used for both AC and DC charging thus requiring just one socket (others require two plugs). Locally, this is the most common charging standard and is used by European EVs such as the Porsche Taycan and Jaguar I-PACE. It’s also used by next-generation Japanese EVs such as the Toyota bZ4X, Subaru Solterra, and even the Nissan Ariya as well as the Korea’s Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6. The chargers are the ones in use at Shell Recharge Stations and Audi/Porsche dealerships.

Then, there’s the GB/T is which is China’s very own DC charging standard. It’s the standard most commonly used by EVs in China be it from SAIC (MG/Maxus), BYD, Geely, GAC, and Changan. Just this year, CHAdeMO and the China Electricity Council are hoping to introduce a unified system—ChaoJi that will replace both CHAdeMO and GB/T, and will backward-compatible using adapters.

As for AC Charging, there are three. Type 1 SAE-J1772 used in North America and Japan, IEC Type 2 used in Europe (this is the one found at SM Malls), and GB/T (which looks like a Type 2 connector but implemented differently) used in China. Again, they’re not compatible with each other.

Whatever the AC plug, this is primarily meant to be used at homes or at work, where you can leave your EV for a few hours to charge. AC Level 1 is the most basic type of charging, and requires the EV to be plugged directly into a 220-volt outlet, usually rated at 16 amps. A full charge takes anywhere between 16 to 20 hours. AC Level 2 requires the installation of a wall box which feeds power directly off a 40-amp circuit breaker—think of it as installing a split-type air conditioner in your garage. It cuts down the charging time to around 5 to 8 hours. It’s meant for people who own their homes, have access to permanent parking spaces, or own their respective EVs, as opposed to renting them or leasing them short-term.

Since the Philippines hasn’t adopted or mandated an EV plug standard, adopters would either have to stick to EVs all made in one part of the world, say European makes or Chinese makes, or wait for the country to rule a plug standard (good luck with that). However, there’s a light in the end of the tunnel as local European brands as well as American and Korean brands have all planned to adopt the CCS Type 2 as their voluntary standard.

Graphic courtesy of Wikipedia.

What’s this talk about DC and AC Charging?

There are actually two ways you can charge an EV—Alternating Current (AC) or Direct Current (DC) charging.

The power that comes from the electricity grid is always AC. However, batteries, like the one in your EV, can only store power as DC. That’s why most electronic devices have a converter built into the plug. You may not realize it but every time you’re charging a device such as your smartphone, the plug is actually converting AC power to DC.

When it comes to electric vehicles, the converter is built inside the car. It’s called the “onboard charger.” It converts power from AC to DC and then feeds it into the car’s battery. This is the most common charging method for EVs. Home chargers use AC power. Essentially Type 1 is free (for as long as you have a 220-volt outlet that’s compatible), while a Type 2 wall box will set you back about P 250,000. Just as you would charge your smartphone every night, this is the sort of connection you’ll use with your EV on a daily basis.

On the other hand, DC chargers converts the grid’s AC current to DC current (the converter is inside the charger, and not the EV). This means it can bypass the EV’s on-board converter and feed power directly to the car’s high-voltage battery. This is also known as fast charging. Because it’s such high-voltage, it requires a special connection from MERALCO thereby limiting it as something only institutions would use. Plus, a DC fast charger costs upward of a million pesos and typically isn’t free.

Fast chargers are also always in constant communication with the EV to which it’s connected to, monitoring the car’s state of charge. It only delivers as much power as the vehicle can handle. The charging station regulates the flow of electricity accordingly so as not to overwhelm the vehicle’s charging system and damage the battery. In some extreme cases, DC chargers bring down the charging speed to something comparable to Level 2 charging to prevent battery damage.


Did you just say, damage the battery?

In a nutshell, yes, DC chargers can degrade an EV battery faster compared to an AC charger. This is especially true in hotter climate areas such as the Philippines. According to several studies, vehicles charged exclusively using AC chargers lose 23 percent of their original battery capacity after 4 years, compared to 27 percent for those using fast chargers at least three times a month. Switching between the two different kinds of AC chargers though—Level 1 and Level 2 has a negligible effect (0.1 percent degradation).

With that takeaway in mind, if you’re planning to get an EV, expect AC charging to be your primary source of “re-fueling.” Again, treat your battery electric vehicle as you would your smartphone—you don’t leave home without it being fully charged. On the other hand, DC charging is meant just for “topping up” in case you’ve miscalculated your EV’s range versus the distance you’re traveling. That’s one reason why DC fast chargers top up an EV only to 80 percent maximum capacity; you’re meant to complete the charge at home.


So, there are different factors when it comes to charge speed?

There are a lot of variables that affect each vehicle’s charging speed. When a battery is more depleted, the charging speed is typically faster. However, batteries don’t like to charge quickly when they’re too hot or too cold, so charging may be slower in extreme temperatures.

Different vehicle manufacturers design different batteries. And because the battery is usually the single most expensive “thing” inside a vehicle, it’s in everyone’s best interest to maximize the battery’s longevity, health, and safety. As a result, when a vehicle charges, the vehicle decides the power it draws from the charger in a way that maximizes longevity.

The vehicle’s Battery Management System (the brain) considers all of the factors explained above in order to maximize the longevity of the battery. Is the battery hot right now? Is it cold outside? Is the battery old and deteriorated? How full is the battery? Given all of this information, the vehicle tells the charger the voltage and current it can accept – the product of which determines the charge rate.

When the vehicle starts charging, it may reach (or get close to) the maximum charging rate. But as the charge continues—and the battery gets hotter and its cells start to fill—the vehicle will slow the charging rate to reduce the strain on the battery.

As more EVs become available locally, there will be more questions that’ll be asked for sure. Right now, almost everyone agrees that we could be at the cusp of switching over from traditional gas- or diesel-powered vehicles to one powered by electrons. With that, it’s good to remain curious and open to this new kind of technology, else you want to end up like the very thing being pumped into your fuel tank: a dinosaur.

7 comments:

  1. Level 1 and 2 refers to the AC power which 110 and 220 volts. Level 2 has different amp requirements due to speed of charging, higher amp quicker charging period, for 10 - 20 amp you home outlet should be ok, while higher amp would require replacing circuit breaker, heavier gauge wire and socket. SM Mall's Type 2 nozzle can be used with a Type 1 provided and adaptor used.. Volvo uses Type 1 with an adaptor, we were able to use SM Mall's charging station.

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    1. Yes, we mentioned this. For simplicity, we called AC Level 1 and AC Level 2.

      Based on what we've been told, Level 2 requires at least a 40 amp breaker. Level 1, meanwhile, requires just a household plug. It must be rated for 16 amps though.

      And yes, Type 1 and Type 2 AC charging are interchangeable, but again, the standards differ.

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  2. Level 2 would require a wall box only if you are using 20 amp and above charger, below 20 amp you can use your car's charger.

    ReplyDelete
  3. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=S1E8SQde5rk - This should temper our excitement for electic vehicles.

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    Replies
    1. Carmakers believe that going EVs is step one, but it's not the end. Energy generation must also be sourced from renewable sources as well. End of the day, emissions must be looked at from a well-to-wheel perspective.

      EVs, admittedly, isn't the only solution, but if done right, can be part of the solution.

      Delete
  4. Watch the link above. You might learn something.

    ReplyDelete

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